"One guy can affect the outcome of a whole war! One guy in the right place... at the right time...
— Harry, brother of the Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier is a DC Comics
war hero created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert
and borrows the name from the Tomb of the Unknowns (popularly, though inaccurately, referred to as "The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier") at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Originally a World War II
hero, the character debuted in Our Army at War
#168 (June, 1966), featuring Sgt. Rock
. Figuring the character to be interesting enough, DC featured him in Star Spangled War Stories
starting from issue #151 (June-July, 1970). Once the character had begun featuring exclusively in the comic, it was later renamed to Unknown Soldier
and continued for 64 more issues, ending in October, 1982. The character has also made appearances in more modern DC Universe
Since then, there have been a few more limited series and minis, including one in 1988 by Jim Owsley, aka Christopher Priest (comics)
, and Phil Gascoine, which was popular with fans, though the characterization differed and may not actually be about the same character who fought in WWII. In 1997, a mini written by Garth Ennis
and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett was released and portrayed a Darker and Edgier
version of the character. It was released by Vertigo Comics
and focused on a CIA agent trying to uncover the details about the Unknown Soldier.
In 2008, another series titled Unknown Soldier
was released by Vertigo Comics. It features another character taking up the mantle of the Unknown Soldier. It was written by Joshua Dysart, with Alberto Ponticelli as artist. It was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2009 for Best New Series. Unlike his predecessor, the character has a known real name, Dr. Moses Lwanga. The series features a hero from Uganda who moved to the States with his family when he was young, before eventually returning to help the people of his land.
Not to be confused with the Finnish war novel The Unknown Soldier
or the films based on it.
Unknown Soldier provides examples of:
- Bandaged Face: Both incarnations.
- Captain Patriotic: In the original comics, at least.
- Child Soldiers: The second Unknown Soldier has to constantly fight (and kill) child soldiers under the control of the Lord's Resistance Army.
- Darker and Edgier: Both the series that followed the original were this. The original itself was a lot darker than other WWII heroes such as Sgt. Rock.
- Flashback Nightmare: Lwanga constantly has nightmares about his killing.
- Immortality: The 1988 series featured an Unknown Soldier who was pretty much immortal, which is one of the reasons it's generally not considered canon.
- The Infiltration: Where the whole Master of Disguise thing comes into play
- Latex Perfection: He uses latex masks to assume identities, but using them for too long causes his face to itch.
- Master of Disguise: The original used to use latex masks to assume the identity of other men.
- Moral Myopia: In the 1997 miniseries, the Unknown Soldier presents an array of atrocities as both moral and necessary, likening anyone who opposes American interests as being akin to Nazi death camp officers. The Unknown Soldier seems aware on some level of his own blatant hypocrisy, although that may only be because of the revelation of America cutting a deal with the Nazis to save Hitler's life. He refuses to give an inch, but eventually becomes consumed by extreme self-loathing.
- Joshua Dysart's take on the original Unknown Soldier subverts this, following a near death experience, as he takes his weaponized successor and offers him the choice to turn him into a peacemaker rather than a godlike killer.
- Nightmare Face: Under all those bandages is one horribly disfigured mug.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: The Unknown Soldier pulls the pin from a grenade with his teeth in a hallucination/flashback to Vietnam in G.I. Combat #0.
- Secret Identity: The Unknown Soldier presents a unique example of this trope since his identity is a mystery to not only the characters in universe, but to us, the readers, as well.